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Match Report


Posted Tue 08 Dec 09 at 21:47 PM


Swansea 1
Trundle 52

Argyle 0

ARGYLE suffered a third consecutive 1-0 defeat at the hands of an impressive Swansea City side.

The Pilgrims stifled their Welsh hosts for 52 minutes before Lee Trundle poked home the winner at the Liberty Stadium.

Character and effort were in abundance for the Greens but Swansea's slick brand of football proved too much on the night, and Argyle completed the match with ten men after Australian Shane Lowry was shown a second yellow card in the final minute.

Paul Sturrock made two changes to the side that suffered late heartbreak in the weekend defeat to Sheffield United at Home Park.

Yoann Folly returned to bolster the midfield, allowing Alan Judge to shift out to the wing. Young Joe Mason was completely rested as a result, despite an impressive debut against the Blades.

The other change was totally expected, with Jamie Mackie recalled after suspension to partner former Swan Rory Fallon in attack. Ashley Barnes slipped down to bench-duty. Cillian Sheridan was left out of the 18.

Swansea boss Paulo Sousa made six changes from the 2-2 weekend draw at Peterborough. Despite scoring twice at London Road, Trundle, on loan at the Liberty from Bristol City, remained on the bench.

He was joined by Gorka Pintado, whose place up front was given to Austrian Besian Idrizaj, making his first start for the Swans. Defender Albert Serran also dropped to the bench, allowing Alan Tate to return from suspension to captain the side.

Jordi Lopez, Andrea Orlandi, Tom Butler and the man with the golden name, Cedric van der Gun, were the others to miss out. Their places went to Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Nathan Dyer and Sheffield United's on-loan midfielder David Cotterill, also making his full debut.

The home side flew out of the blocks, with Dyer bursting through the middle to exchange passes with Idrizaj, and Romain Larrieu needed to be right on the money to narrow the angle.

Even then, the threat remained, as the rebound fell to Cotterill who tried to steer a shot beyond the scrambling Larrieu, but Kári Árnason did well to cover his stranded keeper and nod the ball away from danger.

An ominous start for the Greens against a side that had only lost once at home all season, and that was their first game of the campaign at the Liberty, when they were trounced 3-0 by Middlesbrough.

Since that inauspicious start, Sousa has guided his new team to the verge of the Championship play-off positions with the sort of possession football that almost presented Luggy with a nightmare start on a gloomy Welsh night.

And the attacks kept coming.

First, Allen's drive from the edge of the area was charged down, and then full-back Angle Rangel bombed past Gary Sawyer and cracked an ambitious drive from the right flank into Larrieu's side-netting.

Although Idrizaj was essentially playing as a lone front-man, Argyle were struggling to contend with the supporting midfield threat of Allen and Dyer, who were both running off Folly and Carl Fletcher with worrying ease.

Having weathered the early storm, a long throw from David Gray bounced away from the Swansea penalty area for Fletcher to send a scuttling shot through a sea of 15 legs, only for the 16th to poke the ball away from Dorus de Vries' goal.

Luggy's pre-match plans were thrown in the air on 20 minutes, when Folly was forced to withdraw through injury, although the industrious Chris Clark seemed a suitable replacement for the unfortunate Togolese midfielder.

Dyer remained the most potent Swan and Argyle needed the experience of Fletcher to make a fabulous, and perfectly-timed, sliding tackle in the box after the former Sheffield United winger had surged his way in from the right-wing with a terrific spurt of pace.

Sousa then switched Dyer to the left-wing and Gray took his first opportunity to show Swansea's livewire that the route past was far more hazardous. It was a crude challenge that deserved a booking, but maybe a good time to show Dyer he was in a game.

In fairness to the diminutive winger, he jumped to his feet, switched back to the right and delivered an instant low cross to the near post that Lowry had to turn over the bar under huge pressure from Idrizaj.

Lowry was a lucky man moments later, leaving an uncharacteristic pump forward from Rangel to run through to Larrieu, not knowing that Idrizaj was loitering in behind. Fortunately, the French custodian was alert to the danger and beat the Austrian to the ball by a Gallic whisker.

Argyle finally created a clear opening on 42 minutes, with Fletcher drifting a fantastic cross beyond Tate for the late run of Fallon, but the Kiwi mis-timed his header and the ball looped harmlessly wide.

A minute later Fletcher caught Allen on the edge of the Argyle penalty area. Federico Bessone placed the ball with purpose but curled a deflected shot well over Larrieu's bar.

It was the final act of a half where the Greens had defended stoutly, chased and harried with energy, but failed to gather any cohesive momentum going forward.

When a Swansea player had possession, it seemed he was given two or three options by his team-mates. In contrast, Argyle players appeared to run away from the ball when we had possession, often forcing the Green with the ball to play a long diagonal pass. Despite that, it was a solid opening 45 minutes for Luggy's men.

Sousa posed Luggy a different problem for the second-half by reverting to a 4-4-2 formation and bringing on Trundle and Pintado. Allen and Idrizaj were the men to make way.

The move paid immediate dividends for Sousa, as Pintado skipped past Sawyer and delivered a low cross for Trundle at the near-post, and the rest was all too easy. Luggy and his Green-shirted troops now faced a huge test of character and ability.

It was a challenge they quickly adhered to and Fallon's neatly directed header found Mackie in the box, who wriggled free of Tate before falling under the Swansea skipper's robust tackle. Penalties have been given for less, but not tonight.

Darcy Blake, on loan at Argyle from Swansea's fierce rivals, Cardiff City, was then brought into the Welsh cauldron for the labouring Gray, as Luggy sought a way back into the game.

The goal had forced Argyle to come alive as an attacking force and determined play on the flank from Clark created space for Judge to pick out Fallon with a terrific deep cross, but the Kiwi's downward header was expertly turned wide by the sprawling de Vries.

At the other end Dyer was continuing to torment Sawyer with his pace and trickery, and Lowry needed to get his timing right to prevent the winger from surging through on goal after another impressive foray.

Argyle's admirable initial response to going behind had been replaced by a frustrating spell of chasing white shadows, as the home side looked to pass their way to victory. It needed a change and Craig Noone was the man charged with saviour-duty. Sawyer was the sacrificial Pilgrim.

The change also prompted a shuffling of personnel, as Fletcher dropped back to partner Árnason in defence. Lowry moved to left-back and Judge into centre-midfield, allowing Noone to work his wizardry on the wing.

It was the right move but, in the end, Noone did not have enough time to make a telling impact. Argyle have been desperately unlucky in their previous two 1-0 defeats. Tonight, the better side won the game.

Luggy's misery was completed when Lowry received a second yellow card for a tussle with Pintado in the dying seconds.

It never rains...

Swansea (4-5-1): 1 Dorus de Vries; 22 Angel Rangel, 2 Ashley Williams, 5 Alan Tate (capt), 21 Federico Bessone; 24 Joe Allen (19 Lee Trundle h-t), 7 Leon Britton, 49 David Cotterill (10 Andrea Orlandi 86), 8 Darren Pratley, 12 Nathan Dyer; 40 Besian Idrizaj (18 Gorka Pintado h-t). Substitutes (not used): 11 Cedric van der Gun, 15 Jordi Lopez, 17 David Cornell (gk), 26 Albert Serran.

Booked: Britton 65, Pintado 90

Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Romain Larrieu; 39 David Gray (13 Darcy Blake 53), 11 Kári Árnason, 37 Shane Lowry, 18 Gary Sawyer (17 Craig Noone 79); 2 Karl Duguid, 31 Yoann Folly (6 Chris Clark 21), 4 Carl Fletcher (capt), 25 Alan Judge; 8 Jamie Mackie, 14 Rory Fallon. Substitutes (not used): 22 Réda Johnson, 23 Kyle Letheren (gk), 24 Ashley Barnes, 26 Alan Gow.

Booked: Gray 31, Lowry 46, Judge 56, Clark 72, Árnason 81

Sent-off: Lowry 90

Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

Attendance: 14,004 (332 away).

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